I have written something every year on the anniversary of the accident ranging from the tearfully thankful to the self-pitying and angry. I have marked the day both by celebrating my achievements and howling at the injustice of it all. I am powerless to ignore the date in the same way that I still cannot drive past the crash site without a chill prickling my skin.
The passage of time has begun to smooth out the edges of my memories. Long hospital days and nights never spoken of, start to lose definition until all that remains are a photo carousel of moments: operating theatres, blood transfusions, the nurse who stroked my hand whilst I sobbed, pressing the self-dosage button for fentanyl like a drowning man gasping for air, the naked old man who in his confusion tried to crawl into my hospital bed, the pitiful cries for help that echoed through the ward at night.
Increasingly, I feel the urge to talk to the driver of the other car, the woman who in matter of seconds bound our lives together. She unwittingly wrought violence and twisted metal, yet we have never exchanged a word. I find I need someone to validate the horror and without any witnesses who stopped, she is the only one who was there. I want to ask her if she remembers that day the way that I remember or have the years rewritten the story in my mind? I want to talk to the one person who can fully appreciate what I went through, as she went through it too.
She attempted to contact me soon after the accident, but drugged, scared and in pain, I wasn’t ready to hear her story. Now that I am, I no longer have that opportunity.
I am sure we will never be in contact and perhaps that is for the best, what might be helpful for me, could be profoundly damaging for her, but her narrative feels like the missing part of my own story and without it, my story will never be complete.
I have to write it all down before I can no longer trust my memories, before I self edit, removing the ugly truth and leaving only the bits that people want to hear. I need to document the stubborness, the self pity and the cowardice along with the victories, the perserverence and moments of bravery. Now feels like the right time to start, half a decade on.